Adam Szubin, director of Treasury's Office of Foreign Asset Control, told ABC News that the ACLU's contention that OFAC regulations prohibit lawyers from representing people on the terrorist list "is significantly misleading."
"The Treasury Department has long had in place a general license that broadly authorizes the provision of pro bono legal services to or on behalf of designated persons like [Awlaki]," said Szubin. "To the extent that the particular legal services that the ACLU wishes to provide in this instance do not fall into any of the broad categories that are generally licensed, OFAC will work with the ACLU to ensure that the legal services can be delivered."
During his daily press briefing Tuesday, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs deflected questions about Awlaki's status. "There's a process in place that I'm not at liberty to discuss," he said.
Gibbs, however, noted that Awlaki is not like other American citizens who happen to be out of the country. "Anwar al-Awlaki has in videos cast his lot with Al Qaida and its extremist allies," said Gibbs. "Anwar al-Awlaki is acting as a regional commander for Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. Let's not take a tourist who might visit Italy overseas and equate him with somebody who has on countless times in video pledged to uphold and support the violent and murderous theories of al Qaeda."